Sorry I'm tardy to the party I just learned about this entire thing a few hours ago! I went through all of the updates and saw all of the videos...after spending a while crying tears of happiness I finally composed myself and decided to share my thoughts and express my thanks to all of the developers for continuing my favorite type of games! Thank you very much.
-Pathing is massively important. In IE games I really disliked indoor / close corridors fighting because the characters would often waste time running in a wrong direction. It was especially annoying if a pillar blocked line of sight for a ranged command 40 yards away and the character would move directly toward the target instead of taking the single step to the left/right to regain view.
When Starcraft 2 first came out the first thing that made me cry tears of joy was how fluid and perfect the pathing was. You could select hundreds of units and watch them perfectly navigate around a series of obstacles with a single click. It was so beautiful that many people were making videos just showing off how cool it was. If I could spend more time monitoring spells and actions being preformed instead of making sure my recent commands are properly being executed the enjoyment would increase tenfold. I know this is really obvious but I just felt like mentioning it!
-Spells that had a long casting time (almost a full turn) were sometimes difficult for me to manage when I have to pause countless times in between it's actual cast. This happens often in large scale battles where certain death can occur at any fraction of a second. Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition did a great job helping this problem by creating an icon on the player portrait symbolizing the current action being performed. I would love to see something similar, if not identical to this!
-I've seen a lot of games being accused of having little replayability because of it's linear play style, yet calling Baldur's Gate a masterpiece because of how opened ended it is. I don't understand this logic because Baldur's Gate is completely scripted and after you've played it 100% you will know what to expect on each subsequent play through. I love that game to death but it's never been the same as my first play through because I truly didn't know what to expect behind every inch of shroud my first time around.
I think the perfect solution for these things is to have a randomization system for events. Any "Rogue-like" games have the right idea; you can create randomized sections of the game that doesn't change the storyline in anyway but offers the element of suprise for the player.
I'm not saying the game should be randomly generated like a Diablo map (1 and 2 ...lol@3) but certain "insignificant" areas would have random chances to create a type of event.
For example : You approach the Friendly Arms Inn and instead of that mage who attacks you, one of the following happens :
2)One or more randomly generated characters attacks you.
3)One or more randomly generated characters greet you, and offer you some advice. This advice could be something like "Greetings traveler, careful if you travel east... I heard the howls of a large pack of wolves." Then somewhere in the east a pack of wolves would be created in the nearest spawn point used for such events.
4)A generic traveling merchant would offer you some standard wares.
5)A silly flavor text event happens that pulls you into the atmpsophere, or at the very least makes you grin before moving on.
This is a very basic example, but having multiple playthroughs where the feeling of exploration and genuine suprise can be kept is such a big deal for me and makes the game incredibly more fun!
-Hidden items are always fun to find. It's like an Easter egg hunt but instead of chocolate goodness you find a sum of gold, or a magic scroll, or a potion. Nothing necessary, and nothing big but just a little way to reward players who take the time to look or have a good eye at catching cleverly placed secrets. Holding the tab button to highlight everything would be an exception to this rule, and these secrets wouldn't be shown through that button (if it exists).
----Life in the City----
-Something that I loved about BG1 and BG2 was how long you could enjoy the game while being in a single place. The major cities had a perfect balance of places to explore, places to experience combat, places to shop, and places to progress storylines. You never had to leave the city walls because "I feel like fighting something now."
I would love it if there were even more reasons to stay in the city! A few ideas I have are :
Auction house / Retail Investments : Instead of selling an item directly to a merchant you could place it on an auction or lend it to a shop keep in the hopes of earning extra gold with some patience. You would return to the auction house or store you owned/invested in several game play hours or days later and either collect the gold you asked for (if the game decided it sold) or scan through the offers you got for the item.
For example : Say you placed a +1 Longsword on the market. When you return about a day later you get the following options:
1)Don't sell; Keep +1 Longsword.
2)Accept offer : +1 Flail.
3)Accept offer : 1000 gold.
4)Accept offer : Scroll of Identify, 200 gold, and Potion of Minor Healing.
The options would always vary between existing and total profit as well. Sometimes you would see great deals and other times you would see lousy deals and be forced to decide.
- An idea I had about cities is having minor quests that utilize a player's skill set. Imagine if you ran across someone injured somewhere and at the cost of one of your heal spells/or potions you just saved someone's life. Maybe someone has a disease or negative effect and asks you for a cure. If you happen to have the right spell, you can decide to heal them or even charge them a specific amount of gold for your services. I know a lot of people would see these things as pointless but interacting with the world in non-combat ways is extremely satisfying for me and really increases my enjoyment of the game. I loved the idea of paying for spell casts when you went to temples, and I always wished I could go around selling spells.
-Day and night cycles can have interesting effects on game play! I would love to see spells and abilities that have both positive and negative effects based on current sun/moon cycles or rain/sun/snow conditions!
----Item Related Quests----
-Finding Pommel of the Equalizer in BG2 instantly made me happy. It was a brilliant idea by the developers to put a partial item in the beginning of the game that did many things to the player. It explained to them through game play mechanics alone that this game has specific item pieces in the world, there's definitely a place you can craft items at, and that the items in the game have stories fueling their special powers. I loved this concept but I felt like there could have been more than there was in the game. I would love to see a lot of items that are craftable through exploration and am just as equally interested in learning the stories behind them. Creating actual quests revolving around piecing together legendary items would be a lot of fun!
----Stat Related Quests----
Something Dragon Age Origins tried to do but didn't deliver properly were quests that are directly dependant on your characters skills and/or stats. I think they didn't do it right because it wasn't used enough. There were very few examples of when it actually mattered, and it felt like a lazy attempt to instill a feeling of significance in the world but in the end further illuminated the linear path they took.
I think there should be a large variety of NPCs placed throughout every city and even some amongst the wilderness. They should be randomized to discourage meta gaming, compliment replayability, and encourage exploration.
These NPCs would present to the player problems such as:
1) Someone needs help with identifying a potentially cursed scroll or item. A spell of indentify completes the quest and earns the player a reward.
2) Someone needs help with picking the lock off of a box they found. If you're party is capable of picking the lock then you are presented with three options : accept the reward of "x" amount of gold, share half of what's inside of the lockbox, or chose the evil route and just kill the person and take everything for yourself.
3) Somebody challenges you to play a card game. If you agree to playing the game it automatically determines the winner based on your stats. If you lose you forfeit an agreed upon amount of gold prior to the bet. If you win you earn the agreed upon reward and are told in a quick text popup something like "Your quick dexterity catches the hussler trying to cheat you, he apologizes and forfeits." Or, "Your sharp intellect overcomes your oponent, and you win the game." These small stat checks are insignificant in comparison to the grand scheme of the game but offfer a very rewarding feeling when you are tested on the spot and walk away the victor.
----Difficulty and Danger----
-Something I really hate is level scaling. I hate fighting something blindly with the comfort of knowing level scaling is on my side. I think anyone who has played BG2 can say that their first encounter with Kangaxx the Lich was a very humbling and likely hilarious event. It would sadden me if anyone ever actually got frustrated upon dying there. That event alone made me recognize that I'm living in dangerous times where anything can happen and I'm not the Rambo of the world like in most video games. This is further emphasized with how Irenicus brings the wizards to their knees in the beginning. Trying to fight them yourself soon after learning that you can't cast spells in the city and deciding to do it anyway soon proves that you're no match against them!
Taking the time to avoid a recognizable danger is way more satisfying because it reminds me that I'm not playing a normal video game, I'm playing one of the best ever made! It's also satisfying to be rewarded upon recognizing danger and having it pay off...and then later in the future returning to that location and showing off how strong I've become during my journey and to overcome and obstacle that was once a sure death to my former self.
----Awkward Game Mechanics----
-I love having a large variety of characters/companions that join my party but I never want to have my intentions of playing with a certain group get in the way of their perception of me. I would take everyone if I could but you can only have 5 other party members with you. I get that, I like that, I think a total of 6 is a perfect number and I hope it stays that way because personally I think 7 or more would get a little too crazy.
HOWEVER... I don't want a dialogue option saying "Sorry but you can't join us; we're full." What the hell does that even mean? Is this game that prides itself on immersion actually have a dialogue option that's directly referencing a game play mechanic? That bothered me really bad. What should have happened is you should either let them join or say something along the lines of "I think it would be better if you met with me at 'insert hub like copper coronet'." At least that way the player wouldn't be discouraged about potentially pissing off the NPC. And yes I know that as far as stats/numbers go you aren't actually experiencing any real disadvantage from the NPC you're turning down but I have watched many others including myself experience a pang of guilt because of the game forcing you to chose that dialogue option.
A great example is when you are in BG1 and you have 1 empty slot and a group like Jaheria and Khalid want to join you. Or Minsc and eventually Dynaheir. You are in middle of the wilderness and you say to their face "We don't have room for you.". That is a large error in game design, I think, and should be at the very least rephrased.
Another example of awkwardness is when you first enter Spellhold in the game BG2. You're decently far into the game at that point and almost assuredly have a full party by then. You suddenly meet Imoen and are forced to decide somebodies fate on the spot. Not only is that just an awkward way of putting the player in a tough position entirely based on game mechanics, but you also are very likely to have to reload since there's a strong possibility that whoever you decided to boot out of the party had some crucial items in their inventory. BG2 forces you to go through the clunky process of redoing the entire portion of that game simply because a game mechanic got in the way of your game's momentum.
Sorry about the length of this rant but it's very important to me and I wanted to be sure to get my point across.